Insecticide treatment of bed nets ("mosquito nets") may be a cheap and acceptable method of reducing the morbidity and mortality caused by malaria. In a rural area of The Gambia, bed nets in villages participating in a primary health-care (PHC) scheme were treated with permethrin at the beginning of the malaria transmission season. Additionally, children aged 6 months to 5 years were randomised to receive weekly either chemoprophylaxis with maloprim or a placebo throughout the malaria transmission season. We measured mortality in children in PHC villages before and after the interventions described, and compared this with mortality in villages where no interventions occurred (non-PHC villages). About 92% of children in PHC villages slept under insecticide-treated bed nets. In the year before intervention, mortality in children aged 1-4 years was lower in non-PHC villages. After intervention, the overall mortality and mortality attributable to malaria of children aged 1-4 in the intervention villages was 37% and 30%, respectively, of that in the non-PHC villages. Among children who slept under treated nets, we found no evidence of an additional benefit of chemoprophylaxis in preventing deaths. Insecticide-treated bed nets are simple to introduce and can reduce mortality from malaria.